Improve Your Work With SketchUp
Here are the many ways one builder uses a free design program to avoid complications, to plan more efficiently, and to raise the quality of his work.
Synopsis: Most builders think of their tool kit as including things like hammers, saws, and screwdrivers. How about adding a piece of software to that mix? As South Dakota builder Matt Jackson writes, SketchUp has become an invaluable part of his tool kit. SketchUp, a free design program from Google, lets you create plans easily on your computer. With a tool palette that includes push/pull (a “board stretcher”), a tape measure, and a protractor (helpful for determining angle measurements for roofs), SketchUp gives you the ability to make 2-D plans into 3-D plans for your own projects or for work for clients. One highlight of SketchUp is the photo-match feature, which allows you to import a photo of a room or house, then draw to scale to visualize projects.
I admit it: I’m a tool junkie. I like good tools and enjoy exploring the ways that they can help me to work faster and more accurately. A free good tool is even better. While I prefer tools that help me to work on the job site or in the shop, I’ve always been open to trying any tool that promises to improve my work and save me and my clients money. The free version of Google’s SketchUp is one such tool.
I should mention right away that I’m a carpenter through and through, not a techie. But the realization that I could upgrade at no cost from a stubby pencil and a framing square to 3-D digital drafting motivated me to learn how to use this program, and that move has paid off. Not only have I saved countless hours by avoiding potentially costly mistakes, but my work also is better. I’m able to think through the construction process as I design, which enables me to…